Anyway, if you don’t really want to lose your time, watch the video first. It will help you understand some basic conceptions. If it is to difficult for you, go back to the text version below.
Asking the time in Russian: two simple questions
There are two ways of asking time in Russian. The most common is “Сколько времени?” [skol’ka vremeni]. Uneducated people may say “Сколько время?” [skol’ka vremya], it is very common in everyday speaking but not grammatically correct because the word время (time) should be used in the genitive case – времени. We literally ask “how much”, when asking the time.
The second question is “Который час?” [katoriy chas], which sounds more formal to me. I rarely hear people saying this. Usually they use the first phrase.
If you want to ask passers-by what time is it, you can use following patterns:
Извините, пожалуйста, вы не подскажете, который час?
[izvinite pazhalusta vi ne padskazhete katoriy chas]
Простите, вы подскажете, сколько сейчас времени?
Excuse me, can you tell me what time is it now?
How to tell the time in Russian
Well, this will be much harder than asking the time. First of all, you need to be familiar with Russian cardinal and ordinal numerals. If you’re not, just follow the link.
So, if it’s one, two, three, etc. o’clock (sharp), it’s very easy:
– Сколько времени? (What time is it?)
Час. (It’s one o’clock)
Два часа. (It’s two o’clock)
Три часа. (It’s three o’clock)
Четыре часа. (It’s four o’clock)
Пять часов. (It’s five o’clock)
Шесть часов. (It’s six o’clock)
Семь часов. (It’s seven o’clock)
Восемь часов. (It’s eight o’clock)
Девять часов. (It’s nine o’clock)
Десять часов. (It’s 10 o’clock)
Одиннадцать часов. (It’s 11 o’clock)
Двенадцать часов. (It’s 12 o’clock)
We can also tell the time exactly as we see it on the clock. In this case it’s also easy if you are familiar with the Russian numbers:
– Сколько времени?– Шесть сорок пять. (6:45) or восемнадцать сорок пять (18:45).
In the first case (шесть сорок пять) we can mean both 6:45 and 18:45. We don’t need to clarify this if the part of the day is obvious.
In the following situations the part of the day is essential:
– Когда будет трансляция? (When will it be broadcasted?)
– В 11 вечера. (At 11 pm).
– Когда мне позвонить? (When should I call?)
– В девять утра. (At nine am.)
Not that hard, right? Until now it was. Let’s get to the most dificult part.
How to deal with halves, quarters and minutes
Again, the first numbers in this case are equal in both english and russian sentences, but the second ones are diferent. Why it happens? We talk about time from other perspectives. But in the next situation we are thinking the same way.